Texas Observer: How the Payday Loan Industry Works Regulators from the Inside

January 8, 2014

I think it’s probably safe to say that before he disparaged his customers to the El Paso Times, virtually no one had heard of William White, the chairman of the Texas Finance Commission and a Cash America executive. (Well, the Observer did write about him in 2011.)  Getting into the holiday spirit, in late December White suggested to the Times that the reason people take out unregulated, 500-plus percent APR payday loans is to buy a “60-inch TV” and should “pay the consequences” for their terrible decision to use one of his company’s products.

The comments set off a firestorm of criticism, culminating in Sen. Wendy Davis’ call for White to resign—a demand she formalized in a letter to Gov. Perry yesterday. What White has done is give Davis an opening to talk about an issue she’s long been a leader on, and to put opponent Greg Abbott on the spot. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg noted that “Abbott’s silence gives the Davis Campaign room to claim that Abbott is just Governor Perry’s ‘pay to play’ redux.”

White’s remarks also point to just how deeply rooted the payday loan industry has become in state government. Davis and others are reaching for that old Texas metaphor, “the fox in the henhouse,” to describe just what’s wrong with the situation. But what, exactly, is the fox doing in the henhouse (other than grinning through a mouthful of feathers)?

Read more here.